Planning a Board Retreat is a lot like planning a road trip. Knowing from where you begin and to where you want to end is vital. Planning so you know where you may run into road blocks, delays, and construction make a road trip less stressful. The same applies in planning a Board Retreat. Here are some suggestions to help...
Broaden Agenda Input
Often in preparing for board retreats, the CEO or Board Chair will draft or create the agenda. While this may be efficient, it is not always effective. It is more productive to gain feedback from other board members by conducting interviews with a number of key members in advance. The board members will feel like their insights are valued, that they are helping to shape the agenda, and they will be invested in the success of the retreat before it even begins.
Gain Greater Insight of your Board Members
Additionally, the interviews may serve other purposes such as understanding what specific board members see as the primary issues your organization should address, determining their future plans/interests in serving in a leadership capacity, and gaining insights related to internal political dynamics.
Set the Tone and Expectations
In many instances (if handled correctly), the interviewer is also in position to convey important concepts such as limiting the focus of the retreat to two or three subjects, addressing concerns related to the strategic direction of the organization or fundraising efforts, and explaining specific parameters or expectations.
Proceed with Intent
Draft questions in advance, determine how to frame the interviews, and structure the retreat with the input of board members to ensure desired and successful outcomes.